German international and Arsenal attacking midfielder, Mesut Özil, is being erased from soccer game Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 in China over comments about the treatment of the Uygur Muslim minority and human rights atrocities committed by the Chinese government.
In retaliation for the comments, Özil will no longer feature in any of the NetEase published PES games within the Chinese territory. This include the flagship eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 Mobile.
NetEase announced the decision in a Weibo post. The publisher cited an affront to the Chinese people. Noting that forgiveness isn’t on the cards for the star footballer, mimicking earlier comments from Chinese authorities.
Here’s the full press release, translated from Chinese;
On the evening of December 13, Beijing time, German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media.
The speech hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sports spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this!
From now on, the national service version of “Football”, “Live: Kings Rally” and “Live Club” will no longer produce any “Mesut Ozil” player roles and cards.
In the future, we will announce the further processing plan of the incident, thank you for your understanding and support.
——NetEase “Live” Project Team
Özil laid bare his views on the treatment of ethnic Uygur Muslims in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang in a Tweet featuring a Turkish poem published on Dec. 13 . He decried the burning of Qurans, the closure of mosques, and the murder of scholars, alongside detailing instances of forced imprisonment.
In the aftermath of Özil’s comments, the Arsenal club was quick to distance itself from the player, explaining the comments were the opinion of the player and did not represent the club’s stance on the matter.
In retaliation, China Central Television opted to not air a live broadcast of a match between Manchester City and Arsenal on Sunday . The Chinese foreign ministry put the comment down to fake news obscuring Özil analysis of the situation in Xinjiang .
Chinese social media was reportedly awash with criticism of Özil, with reports of his jersey being burned and calls for Arsenal to fire the player over the comments .